Never regret something that once made you smile….at the time its what you wanted
I was pondering this story now for a while and made notes here and there because I do want this to be a fair, but critical look at the CFR Elite. Before you read on, you should quickly read an article I wrote a while back which is glowing with praise for the CFR. If you don’t want to read all the details, let me catch you up quickly; I used to ride a Cannondale T800 which showed a crack in the left rear dropout after a crash. I shopped around the LBS’s when my eye fell onto the CFR Elite, a 2006 model, available for a huge discount in April ’08. Back then the savings were too good to pass up, but this is part of the story.
Scattante is the Performance Bicycle Store brand . Supposedly the frames come off the same production line as the Fuji bikes (I never got this 100% confirmed). What initially attracted me to the bike was
- Shimano Ultegra shifters, crank, derailleurs and cassette and
- full carbon with a see-through paint job.
The bike looked and felt very aggressive and the test ride sold me immediately. But, how could it not? My old ‘dale was at least 8 pounds heavier and before test riding the CFR I have never been on a full carbon bike. So, everything felt light, responsive and fast and of course, it was a shiny new bike.
Part of the deal (I bought the bike for $1200 incl. tax) was a full fitting session and I have almost no problems with the service received. I say almost, because after riding some 7000 miles on this bike I now know that the 54 cm size on this specific geometry is wrong for me. The way the bike sets up, I have an effective top tub length of 55.5 cm and that is quiet long for someone standing 5’8″ without the arm length of an ape. I did not know that, but they should. I also have to say that initially it did not bother me much, because I was starting to get back into cycling and a 20 mile ride was huge distance back then. So was cycling up 26th street which I called ‘the mountain’ – it really is only an 800 yard long hill with a 3 to 4 percent grade. What I am trying to say is, that the reach issue did not surface until I started riding longer distances and started building up strength with real hill climbing exercises.
Right around the one year mark after purchase the springs of the Cane Creek break levers started to rust. To me this is a big visual blemish because I try to keep my bike well maintained and good looking. Not long thereafter (outside the 1 year warranty parts and labor warranty) I notice that my front wheel was not spinning freely (Shimano). My LBS took the hub apart and said that the part holding the bearings was slightly warped. Hu? – How does that happen? I got a song and dance that today’s stiff forks put a lot more pressure on the hubs and so on. I told them that I thought this was a BS story and asked if they were willing to honor it under warranty, which they did not (I was 11 days outside of the window). They did order the small parts to fix it (after I had to pay upfront) and agreed to waive the labor charge. Funny, I just looked at the date and it is exactly 2 months since the order and the small parts are still on backorder.
A couple of weeks after we ordered said parts, the front wheel got so bad that you could hear the uneven revolutions while riding. I stopped back in and demanded and received a loaner wheel because I cited safety issue. Couple of weeks later I noticed that my rear wheel was showing signs of uneven spinning while cleaning the drivetrain. So, back I went, and no I did not get a loaner for the rear (I tried), but one of the wrenches loosened the nut holding the cogs to give a bit more play to spin. And, that is how I still ride.
Would I buy from this store again: no
Why: I feel I was sold the bike because it needed to get off the floor (remember an ’06 model bought in ’08) without regard of proper fitting. I also feel that the wheel issues are handled very poorly
Would I recommend the Scattante CFR Elite: with reservations
Why: It is a very good bike for someone who will ride short trip distances and that person will get a lot of bike for the money. However, if you are serious about riding (I put 7000+ miles on the bike since I bought it) you will find that the old saying “you get what you pay for” holds very true. I find that the frame doesn’t have the desired stiffness (especially for climbing), somewhat a sluggish response when I ‘step on it’ and I am frustrated with repair issues typically not associated with other brands.
Originally I thought I would make the investment in upgrading components, such as wheels and brakes. I did abandon that plan and instead started feeding a new bike fund to purchase a ‘serious’ bike for my serious passion. In the meantime I will try to maintain the CFR as best as I can and whenever the new bike comes retire it to such duties as shopping runs around town.
In the spirit of never regretting what once made me smile – the CFR is a good bike, I simply outgrew its capacity.